The discovery of Asian soybean rust in North America in late 2004 (read Background) changed the nature of soybean production in Louisiana as well as throughout the rest of the continent. Farmers must now be ever-vigilant for this disease because once it becomes established, it can spread quickly – potentially destroying entire fields. The fungus is spread by wind-borne spores. First discovered in Asia more than 100 years ago, it has moved to Africa, South America and now here.
The only way to control the disease is early discovery and use of fungicides. Scientists all over the world, including LSU AgCenter scientists, are working to develop varieties of soybeans resistant to this disease – but that solution is at least five years away. Meanwhile, Louisiana and other states have set up a system of sentinel plots to aid in finding the disease.